It’s Premier League match time as Birmingham City host West Ham United on Saturday afternoon at St Andrew’s.
West Ham will look forward to the game against the Blues as one of three opportunities to get out of the relegation mine, with matches against West Brom and Blackpool line up after this one. The Hammers are at the bottom of the pile in twentieth place on the points table.
Indeed, manager Avram Grant’s fortunes are tied up with the performance of his charges in these three games, with the players reportedly unhappy about some of the substitutions their manager made in the game against Arsenal in match week ten. Nothing is going right for the team at the moment.
Thomas Hitlzperger’s injury has hurt West Ham badly as they did not have a back up plan for the unexpected eventuality. That said, the game against Arsenal was hard-fought and had they taken an early lead, they could have brought off an unlikely win on a day when they kept the Arsenal attack at bay for the best part of 87 minutes.
In fact, West Ham got their first opportunity barely nine mnutes into the atch when Fabianski between the Arsenal posts barely managed to keep a Scott Parker free kick out, after Song had tripped Piquionne to set it up. Mark Noble was another player who impressed on a day when the Hammers stayed positive against their more fancied rivals.
Birmingham are just five places ahead of the Hammers, in fifteenth position. But with two back to back clean sheets in their most recent Premiership games, the Blues are justified in feeling they are beginning to find their stride this season.
But a problem with Birmingham’s game this season has been their defensive mindset; they have concentrated on keeping their rivals from scoring rather than scoring themselves. This was reflected in the Blues’ opting to go with just one striker in Zigic. But Birmingham would consider themselves for not having a penalty appeal upheld by the umpire after a plapabe handball by Reo-Coker in Villa’s box.
The Blues’ goalless draw away against Aston Villa in match week ten was the first of seven Premier League matches when Villa were kept from winning against their derby rivals, and Birmingham will take that as a positive sign. Larsson and Carr were impressive for Birmingham, as was Scott Dann in the back. Dann was booked after he brought down Villa skipper Clark, and he must be careful in the Hammers game as his team can ill-afford to be reduced to ten men against Grant’s men who are desperate for their second win this season. Birmingham are always hard to beat at home, and predictably, bookmakers favour the Blues to win.
Ahead of the match, Birmingham have Beausejour and McFadden on the injured list, while West Ham will miss Hitzlsperger, Hines, Collison and Noble for the same reason. In addition, Faubert is serving out a three match suspension.
Birmingham had the following players in the first eleven in their game against Aston Villa: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Dann,
Ridgewell, Larsson, Gardner, Ferguson, Fahey, Hleb, Zigic
The following player featured as a substitute in the match: Jerome
West Ham’s starting eleven against Arsenal comprised: Green, Jacobsen, da Costa, Gabbidon,Ilunga, Parker, Behrami, Noble, Boa Morte, Obinna, Piquionne
The substitutes who played in the match were: Barrera, Cole, Faubert
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